Category Archives: Knives

Bring The Heat!

The HTM Desert Enforcer sports
sizzlin’ design with a pedigree.

Darrel Ralph is known in the custom knife world for his exceptionally hot styling, so when he uses another knifemaker’s design for one of his Hand Tech Made (HTM) models you can bet it’s going to be a sizzler, too. The Desert Enforcer is every bit of that and more. Randall King, a veteran knifemaker since 1987 with multiple movie knives to his credit (including The Last of the Mohicans and The Crow), designed the Desert Enforcer fixed blade for both hard field use and combat—a blend that will appeal to serious field users and those needing a knife for personal defense alike.

At 9.5 inches overall with a 5-inch blade, the Desert Enforcer is a medium-size fixed blade—small enough for comfortable field carry yet large enough for more than casual field chores. The blade is a graceful trailing point design with a saber grind on the backside for enhanced penetration. A tanto version is also available. The Enforcer’s blade steel is state-of-the-art CPM-S30V stainless in black DLC and satin finish options. The handle scales are 3D machined in a “stepped” pattern for excellent grip a notched thumb ramp is machined into the lower blade back for added purchase. Ralph is well known in cutlery circles for his incredible CNC (computer controlled) machining skills and the Enforcer’s handles reflect his expertise.

This is a mid-tech knife, which means some fabrication has been done by machining to cut down costs. Typically a mid-tech offering runs 40 or 50 percent less than a handmade custom. The price tag of the Desert Enforcer reflects such savings and is plenty reasonable for an American-made knife that will have no problem whatsoever jumping into the frying pan and saving your bacon!
By Pat Covert

Maker: HTM Knives
12034 S. Profit Way
Forney, TX 75126
(740) 965-9977 or (740) 972-2125

Blade Material: CPM-S30V
Blade Length: 5″
Overall Length: 9.75″
Weight: varies by model
Handle: 3D textured G10
Carry: Handmade Kydex sheath w/Tec Loc
Price: $279.99

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GUNS October 2013

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1-Handed Horde!

Knives Of Alaska’s Friction Locks
Are A Blend Of The Old And New.

We never called them slip joints. We just called them “pocketknives”—simple non-locking folding knives you just threw in your pocket with loose change, and when you wanted to close the blade you simply pushed it forward from the backside, overcoming the backspring and returning it to the handle. Knives of Alaska calls them “friction locks” and they bear no resemblance to the traditional trappers or congress patterns of old. Instead, KoA has served their slip joints up with modern handles and nifty 1-hand blade-opening features.

There are four folders in KoA’s Friction-lock series, all with either drop-point or spear-point blades. Models 400 spear point and Ranger drop point are the larger of the quartet. The Model 400 is 6.20 inches (2.55-inch blade) with a thumb-stud opener, and the Ranger is 6.28 inches (2.32-inch blade) with an ovate-hole opener. The Spike and Rover are smaller versions of their larger siblings, approximately 1 inch smaller in overall length with half-inch shorter blades. Handles are an attractive bright orange- and black-layered Micarta. Like traditional slip joints you won’t find carrying clips on the backs of these knives. They’re meant for dropping in the pocket the old fashioned way.

Knives of Alaska chose to use D2 steel for the blades. This isn’t a true stainless steel but has enough chromium content to make them highly rust resistant, plus you can easily sharpen them on a simple Arkansas stone. Slip joints work fine for peeling, slicing, skinning, and most other daily tasks, but for prying you’re better off with a folder with a blade lock. That said, for everyday chores you’ll find any of KoA’s foursome a welcome addition to your pocket, and their modern styling is a refreshing twist to an old theme!
By Pat Covert

KoA Friction-Locks
MAKER: Knives of Alaska
3100 Airport Dr.
Denison, TX 75020
(800) 572-0980
Blade Material: D2 carbon steel, Blade Length: Varies by model, Overall Length: Varies by model, Weight: Varies by model, Handle: Orange and black layered Micarta , Carry: Pocket, Price: Large $74.99, small $64.99

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A Beastly Blade!

CRKT’s Ken Onion Redemption Is A heavy-Duty Taskmaster.

Ken Onion is one of the rare custom knifemakers who have had an impact on the cutlery industry since the modern tactical era spawned in the early 1990s. His assisted opening mechanism took the tactical genre by storm and is still red hot. While the talented maker is best known for his folders, Onion designs a mean fixed-blade such as the Redemption model you see here, a factory collaboration with Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT).

Onion has long been a fan of the Filipino Bola blade, a drop-point style that flares wider toward the end. The Bola design excels on large knives where the added weight on the top half of the blade adds hellacious chopping power. The Redemption—15 inches in overall length with 9.5 of the total in the blade—is a survival knife posing as a monster, or vice versa. The knife’s full tang construction utilizes O1, a time proven high carbon non-stainless “tool steel” that’s been around since dirt. The back spine of the blade is ground for enhanced penetration and a black powder coat keeps oxidation in check. The Redemption has a curvaceous black G10 composite handle with fingergrooves for excellent purchase and an integral guard at the top for finger protection. To grip the Redemption’s 20.8 ounces (the steel is over a 1/4-inch thick) of weight is to know there are no large chores off limits. This is a bushwhacker, site clearer, shelter builder, butcherer, and more.

CRKT delivers the Redemption with a first class black nylon Molle sheath with a plastic insert to hold the knife tight, and further accoutered with leg straps and a pouch for a sharpening stone or folder. One major benefit of O1 steel is—unlike many of the modern day stainless steels—it can easily be sharpened in the wild, even using a smooth stone if necessary. At $300 suggested retail the Redemption will be worth every penny when it comes to putting its worth to task, and you’ll never have to say you’re sorry you didn’t bring a beast along to do a beast’s job!
By Pat Covert

Maker: CRKT
18348 S.W. 126th Pl.
Tualatin, OR 97062
(800) 891-3100

Blade Material: O1 high carbon steel
Blade Length: 9.5″
Overall Length: 15″
Weight: 20.8 ounces
Handle: Black G10
Carry: Nylon sheath/thermal plastic insert
Price: $300

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Worldly Wield!

The Boker Plus Kwaiken Combines International Steel And Superb Slice!

What do you get when you cross an American knifemaker, an Asian design, and German engineering? That would be the Boker Plus Kwaiken. Designed by New Mexico custom knifemaker Lucas Burnley, the Japanese tanto-inspired folder you see here is a near ringer for Lucas’ custom version converted from his most popular knife, the Kwaiken fixed blade.

Boker has been going lights out these past 5 or so years producing factory cutters in collaboration with custom knife artisans. Burnley’s Kwaiken adds to that streak. This slender 8.39-inch (fully opened) tour de force is no doubt a defensive knife and, although this isn’t a field knife, the Kwaiken would be right at home slicing into a medium rare venison backstrap. The Kwaiken’s 3.54-inch stonewash-finished blade is of high quality AUS8 Japanese stainless steel. A sturdy locking liner in the handle holds the business end absolutely rigid with the blade employed. For added spice the blade rolls out on a butter smooth IKBS ball bearing system for rapid access.

The handles are nicely sculpted Green Micarta over stainless steel frame rails plus there’s a lanyard hole at the base. On the backside you’ll find a pocket clip for carry in the popular tip-up position. For pure self-defense there’s a lot to like about the Kwaiken. Burnley’s custom version sells on the open market for a tad under 900 bucks, but you can get the Boker Plus rendition for a manufacturer’s suggested retail of a much friendlier $154.95. This is truly a well-made folder with a fine custom pedigree, sleek Japanese styling, and excellent German engineering. And with Kwaiken in pocket you may choose to forego the house table knife next time you frequent the local steak house!
By Pat Covert

Maker: Boker USA, Inc.
1550 Balsam St., Lakewood, CO 80214
(800) 835-6433
Blade Material: AUS8 stainless steel
Blade Length: 3.54″
Overall Length: 8.39″
Weight: 4.16 ounces
Handle: Green Micarta
Carry: Pocket clip tip-up
Price: $154.95

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Guns july

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Barrel Backup!

Battle Blades And TOPS Put The Picatinny To Good Use!

Battle Blades’ MP4 Wolfhawk with Picatinny sheath is one of those products that make you scratch your head and wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Designed by pilot/outdoorsman Kelly Van Orden in conjunction with TOPS Knives, this is the first knife system designed to mount on a Picatinny rail for a variety of mounting options including, but not limited to, a rifle stock. The Battle Blades injection-molded sheath (with 2-inch mount) is also adaptable to both Molle and neck knife configurations, making the Wolfhawk one of the most versatile knives on the planet!

Wolfhawk knives are available in optional clip-point or tanto blade styles with black linen Micarta or para-cord-wrapped handles. The full-tang blade is ground from 1095 high carbon steel and features TOPS’ black-traction powder coating. The clip-point blade version is the most versatile of the pair. This knife is just at home on the side of an AR-15 readied for close combat backup as it is mounted to the side of a synthetic-stock hunting rifle for skinning game. The tanto is more widely recognized as a fighting blade but can serve for field purposes as well. Van Orden also runs the Battle Blades Foundation, which helps veterans financially through a variety of programs including “Weapons for Warriors,” which helps veterans obtain sporting rifles and other sporting gear. The retail on the Wolfhawk system is $169.95, but TOPS has it available on their website for an introductory price of $135.95. (Note: you’ll be directed to the TOPS site through Battle Blades’ ordering link and TOPS’ web address is also listed below). Like choices? The versatile MP4 Wolfhawk system is the way to go!
By Pat Covert

MP4 Wolfhawk
Maker: Battle Blades Knives
P.O. Box 87
Irwin, ID 83428
(208) 313-2434
Blade Material: 1095 high carbon steel
Blade Length: 3.25″
Overall Length: 7.75″
Weight: 5.2 ounces (with sheath)
Handle: Black Micarta or para-cord
Sheath: Injection-molded
2″ Picatinny mount
Price: $169.95

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Crowd Pleasin’ Crossover!

All Purpose Fixed Blade Can Hunt And Defend.

The term “crossover cutter” has become an industry phrase for versatile knives which can serve the user for both tactical and hunting/survival chores.’s All Purpose Fixed Blade fits that description quite well. Run by brothers Larry and Rodney Connelley, KnifeArt is one of the top selling Internet purveyors of custom and high-end production knives. The All Purpose Fixed Blade is one of several knives the Connelley brothers have designed and commissioned to sell under their exclusive KnifeArt brand, and their knowledge of versatile working knives is evident in this hard-use fixed blade.

For starters, this is a handmade knife, with all the looks and feels you’d expect from a custom. The All Purpose’s clip-point blade has a deep-bellied hollow-grind for excellent slice-ability and the swedge grind on the backside enhances penetration so, in essence, you’ve got the best of both worlds for game or foe. The handle is fully sculpted, superbly finished Micarta with a deep finger choil for added purchase, plus there’s a lanyard loop at the base. At 9.75 inches overall (5.0 of that in the blade) the full-tang All Purpose can perform tough field chores, yet the knife’s 8.1 ounces in weight is easy to handle. The Connelleys chose D2 “semi-stainless” steel because it offers strong corrosion resistance along with ease of sharpening—here again adding to the field worthiness of the knife. The price of the All Purpose is $250 (a handmade heat-formed Kydex sheath is included), very much in line with much custom fare and even a bit less expensive than many. Well worth it for a purposeful design that allows you to wear a lot of hats!
By Pat Covert

All Purpose Fixed Blade
13301 Pompano Dr., Little Rock, AR 72211
(800) 564-3327
Blade Material: D2 semi-stainless
RC 59-60, Blade Length: 5″
Overall Length: 9.75″
Weight: 8.1 ounces
Handle: Ranger green or black Micarta
Sheath: Custom Kydex
Price: $250

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GUNS May 2013

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Wilson Tactical

A fine bit of force!

Wilson Tactical’s Combat Utility Blade is some serious steel. Chances are you’re very familiar with Wilson Combat’s high-grade firearms, conversions and accessories, but did you know the company offers some darn nice tactical knives to boot?

A couple of years back, Wilson Tactical (the cutlery side of Wilson Combat) began teaming up with custom knifemakers and top shelf manufacturers to offer limited editions of knives and these collaborations have been a resounding success with many offerings selling out virtually overnight—a sign they must be doing something right!

The company’s latest pièce de résistance is a tactical fixed blade by knifemaker Steve Woods dubbed the C.U.B. (Combat Utility Blade). The 9-inch overall C.U.B. might best be described as an aggressive knife dressed to the nines. The blade is a graceful yet wide 4-inch 154CM stainless steel clip point with a deep-bellied grind for superb cut. The handle is a swoopy handful of grippy 3-D machined G10 composite with a deep-finger choil available in basic black, black/gray layers, or a black/green layered combo.

The C.U.B. is of sturdy full-tang construction and has an exposed glass breaker/skull cracker pommel with three holes that can be used for a lanyard or lashing points. Inset into the handle is a bronze “WT” medallion and at the base Wilson’s signature plaited skull bead lanyard. A custom heat-formed Kydex sheath with a positionable Tek-Lok is included. The price for such finery is $350 suggested retail, very much in line with knives of this quality—and with those cool handle options you can color code your knife to match your favorite firearm!
By Pat Covert

Steve Woods Combat
Utility Blade (C.U.B.)
Maker: Wilson Tactical
2234 County Rd. 719
Berryville, AR 72616
(800) 955-4856
Blade Material: 154CM stainless steel, Blade Length: 4″, Overall Length: 9″, Weight: 8.4 ounces, Handle: 3D machined G10 (black, black/green, black/gray), Carry: Custom Kydex with Tek-Lok, Price: $349.95

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GUNS April 2013

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Fightin’ W

Straight To The Point! Spyderco And Michael Janich Refine The Wharncliffe Fighter.

In Michael Janich’s edgy world the closest distance between fighting success vs. failure is a straight line. Janich, Spyderco’s Special Projects Director, has conducted edged weapons training seminars all over the world and had previously collaborated with Spyderco on several knives prior to his employment by the company. The Yojimbo 2 (Japanese for “bodyguard”) is an update of the original folder released in 2003. Michael’s demonstrations using the straight-edged Wharncliffe-style blade are highly convincing.

According to Michael, “The Yojimbo 2 is a much more evolved version of my original Spyderco folder design. Like the original, it features a Wharncliffe blade to ensure maximum cutting power all the way to the point. However, the blade is now partially hollow ground to provide a better balance of blade strength and cutting performance and is extended to 3.25″. The concave thumb ramp on the back of the blade provides the perfect purchase for a “Filipino-style” grip and is devoid of jimping or texturing to prevent abrading the thumb during hard impact.”

Spyderco spared no expense on materials for the new Yojimbo 2. Blade steel is a top shelf CPM-S30V stainless powder steel from Crucible Industries and the handles are a nicely sculpted, and durable, G10 synthetic. To keep the blade secured Spyderco added their patented Compression Lock, an extremely strong locking system with access on the backside of the handle. The pocket clip can be positioned on all four ends of the knife, giving the user a wide choice of carry options. If self-defense is your main concern, the Spyderco Yojimbo 2 carries a proven pedigree with a heckuva bite!
By Pat Covert

Yojimbo 2
Maker: Spyderco, Inc.
820 Spyderco Way, Golden, CO 80403
(800) 525-7770
Blade material: CPM-S30V stainless,
Blade length: 3.5″
Overall length: 7.75″
Weight: 4 ounces
Handle: Black G10
Carry: Pocket clip
Price: $170

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Guns Magazine March 2013

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In Praise Of Littl’uns!

Michigan’s White River Knives small hunters pack small and deliver big.

Small fixed blades are an oft-overlooked part of the hunter’s gear, and if you’re not toting one you might want to give them a second look. A small fixed blade can skin with much more accuracy and less chance of error than an oversized field knife. They add very little to your pack weight and are a snap to clean compared to a folding knife, which has recesses and hidey-holes that collect blood and viscera like a pack rat.

At the annual Blade Show in Atlanta this past June I wandered past the White River Knives booth and immediately my head snapped back in a double take. It wasn’t so much the company’s selection that struck me—and they do have a wide range of choices—but the superb quality of their knives. The White River Caper, with its comfortable handle and deep finger choil, is a skinning friendly knife packing in at just a tad over 2-1/2 ounces. The White River Scout has a thinner profile perfect for fine caping and weighs about the same. Both knives sport 3.5″ drop-point blades and are 6.75″ in overall length.

The Caper and Scout are of full-tang construction and feature top-shelf S30V stainless steel for the cutting chores. White River offers a plethora of handle options too numerous to name here, but a sampling includes synthetics like Micarta and G10 as well as exotic materials such as Spalted Maple and Stag. The fit and finish is custom quality and both knives come with a Kydex sheath. Price wise the Scout runs $149 and the Caper $159, both in optional Micarta, which is $10 more. This pair is small in size but big on quality—check ’em out!
By Pat Covert

Caper & Scout
Maker: White River Knife & Tool
130 Mason DR.
Coopersville, MI 49404
(616) 997-0026
Blade material: S30V stainless steel, Blade length: 3.5″ (both), Overall length: 6.75″ (both), Weight: 2.65 ounces (Caper), 2.56 ounces (Scout), Handle: Bird’s Eye Maple (standard), Carry: Kydex sheath, Price: $159 (Caper), $149 (Scout)

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GUNS Magazine February 2013 Issue

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Everyday Alternative

Kenny Teague’s KT-8 Utility makes a great case for everyday carry.

Despite the incredible number of folding knives available, several knifemakers I know prefer a fixed blade for their everyday carry—and they make a substantial case for it. From a self-defense standpoint, to access a fixed blade you simply draw the knife and it’s ready for action. You don’t have to orient your hand to the handle or open the blade, it’s already there. Secondly, a fixed blade is far less likely to fail because it has no moving parts. Finally, because it’s more solid than a folder, a fixed blade just feels more secure in the hand.

Arkansas knifemaker Kenny Teague’s all-purpose KT-8 Utility knife is the perfect size for an everyday carry. At 7.5″ in overall length and a scant 4 ounces, it won’t drag you down. The KT-8’s nicely sculpted 4″ Micarta handle is ample enough to fill the palm but not so large it feels like a brick hanging off your belt. The knife’s deeply ground 3″ D2 steel blade is made to slice whether for skinning game, performing light chores, or ridding yourself of an irritant who may be interested in your wallet.

Teague offers the KT-8 with a handmade heat-formed Kydex belt sheath configured for vertical or side mount carry, your choice. He learned his craft from Bob Dozier, one of the country’s most successful knifemakers and legend for making a heck of a knife for the money. In Kenny’s case, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. The KT-8 Utility will run you $175 in black Micarta, well in line for the price of a handmade knife and especially one you can count on to be by your side day after day!
By Pat Covert

Blade material: D2 steel
Blade length: 3″
Overall length: 7.5″
Weight: 4 ounces
Handle: Brown Micarta
Carry: Kydex sheath
Price: $175 (black)
$185 (other colors)

KT-8 Utility
Maker: Teague Knives
900 Highway 71 N.E.
Mountainburg, AR 72946
(479) 369-2374

GUNS January 2013 Cover

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